The History of Literature #209 – Conflict Literature (with Matt Gallagher)

Matt Gallagher is an American writer who served in the Iraq War as a U.S. Army captain. He first became known for his blog, which was shut down by the military, and his subsequent war memoir Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War. Since then he’s received an MFA from Columbia University and published several books of fiction and essays, proving himself to be a thoughtful contributor to a subspecies of literature known as conflict literature.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian writer who – although she is only 42 – has established herself as one of the world’s greatest authors. The Times Literary Supplement has called her the most prominent of a procession of critically acclaimed young anglophone authors who is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature. She too, is a contributor to conflict literature, particularly in her book Half of a Yellow Sun, which tells the story of the Biafran War through the perspective of multiple characters, including a professor, a British citizen, and a Nigerian houseboy.

In this episode, Matt Gallagher joins us to discuss his experiences as a reader, writer, and soldier in Iraq; his first encounter with Adichie’s masterwork Half of a Yellow Sun; and how his experience as a soldier informed his relationship with literature.

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Music Credits:

“At the Shore” by Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License


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